Digital Approaches to Multilingual Text Analysis Symposium

Babylonische spraakverwarring, Rijksmuseum, CC.

Digital Approaches to Multilingual Text Analysis Symposium

by Charbel El-Khaissi and Dr Katrina Grant

3 Feb, 2022

Categories: News

In January 2022, ANU hosted the online symposium, Digital Approaches to Multilingual Text Analysis, organised by Dr Joshua Brown (University of Western Australia) and CEMS member Dr Katrina Grant. The symposium was held all day on January 27 2022 from 1:45pm – 7:30pm and attracted a wide range of speakers, including from South Korea, China, Germany, Spain, United States and Australia. Presentations were administered in a 10-minute speed talk format with 10 minutes for questions from audience members.

Papers discussed the dynamics of digital approaches in multilingual text analysis, including language-specific complexities as well as a diverse range of projects and critiques of digital methods.  Topics ranged from multilingual infrastructure in the Australian public sector, to corpus linguistics, and fonts for various writing systems. A wide range of languages were featured as well, from Modern Standard Arabic to Pintupi-Luritja (Australian Aboriginal).

Stanford’s Quinn Dombrowski kicked off the day with a compelling keynote speech that discussed the ubiquitous nature of digital tools and techniques in academia, and the challenges of adopting a one-size-fits-all Digital Humanities (DH) lens. In particular, the dominance of English language sources in the DH field was challenged, and this very much constituted the vane of subsequent presentations, which explored the increasing use of DH tools and techniques in languages and linguistics research for non-English sources. Dr Joshua Brown spoke to digital approaches to multilingual text analysis based on his forthcoming chapter in Routledge’s Multilingual Digital Humanities. Digital Research in the Arts and Humanities. The conference also featured a presentation by CEM HDR candidate, Charbel El-Khaissi, on the successes and challenges of the Digital Humanities in Syriac studies.

In summary, the symposium demonstrated that a ‘non-Anglo DH’ is very much alive and thriving (cf. Fiormonte, 2016: 438). Dr Katrina’s final remarks of the symposium drew attention to the ways in which diverse research based in different disciplines, faces similar challenges. The papers attracted insightful discussions among the global audience members regarding the many challenges of working on multilingual digital projects. For details of the papers see the abstracts and full program here. The seminar recording is now available for you to view online here.

Charbel El-Khaissi
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Charbel El-Khaissi is a PhD candidate in the Linguistics at the School of Literatures, Languages, and Linguistics at ANU, with a research focus in historical linguistics. His thesis, “The Historical Syntax of Definiteness in Late Aramaic,” exploits technological advancements in Syriac computational linguistics and digital humanities to trace the evolution of Aramaic nominals across a 1,000 year period. Charbel is an industry consultant in artificial intelligence and Big Data spaces with over a decade of experience working for multinational technology giants, high-profile government clients, and not-for-profit organisations.

Katrina Grant
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Katrina Grant is an art historian with a background in the study of early modern Italy. Her research focuses on gardens and the history of landscapes, as well as the visual culture of theatre and festivals, and the connections between these two areas. She is based within the ANU’s Centre for Digital Humanities Research and in this position she also looks at the role of digital technology in GLAM institutions. Current research projects include “Digital Cartographies of the Roman Campagna,” with the British School at Rome. The project brings together historical maps with modern mapping technologies to recreate the lost landscape of the early modern Roman Campagna, and draws together data and research from a variety of disciplines, including art and architectural history, social history, cultural geography, and the history of climate and ecological change. Katrina has published on the gardens as a site for performance, history of emotions and set design, artistic relationships between Britain and Italy in the eighteenth century, the garden as a site for commemoration, and the use of landscape as a political stage for performances of courtly power.